Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Cohort Study

  • Jane MonacoEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_999-2



A cohort study is an observational study design in which subjects are usually selected based on their risk factor exposure and followed over time to evaluate whether they develop the outcome of interest (usually disease).


Cohort studies are commonly used in behavioral medicine research to investigate associations in which experimental designs are unethical or too costly. In a cohort design, participants who have not experienced the outcome of interest are selected, usually based on whether or not they have been exposed to the risk factor of interest. Therefore, a cohort study design is efficient when the exposure is relatively rare but the outcome of interest is common. For example, a cohort design was used in a study of the association of prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure with behavior issues and cognitive disability (Lai et al. 2002). A cohort design is...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Dawber, T. R., Kannel, W. B., & Lyell, L. P. (1963). An approach to longitudinal studies in a community: The Framingham study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 107(2), 539–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Hennekens, C. H., Buring, J. E., & Mayrent, S. L. (1987). Epidemiology in medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  3. Kleinbaum, D. G., Sullivan, K. M., & Barker, N. D. (2007). A pocket guide to epidemiology. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Lai, T. J., Liu, X., Guo, Y. L., Guo, N., Yu, M., Hsu, C., et al. (2002). A cohort study of behavioral problems and intelligence in children with high prenatal polychlorinated biphenyl exposure. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(11), 1061–1066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Wolf, M. E., Alexander, B. H., Rivara, F. P., Hickok, D. E., Maier, R. V., & Starzyk, P. M. (1993). A retrospective cohort study of seatbelt use and pregnancy outcome after a motor vehicle crash. The Journal of Trauma, 34(1), 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiostatisticsThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • J. Rick Turner
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Communications, QuintilesDurhamUSA